OCC Urges Banks to Work with Customers after Blizzard

With a major blizzard bearing down on the mid-Atlantic region, the OCC issued a proclamation on Friday allowing national banks and federal thrifts to close branches affected by the extreme winter weather.

The agency also reiterated guidance intended to help banks facilitate recovery in the wake of natural disasters, noting that “prudent efforts to assist customers in areas hit by the disasters should not be subject to bank examiner criticism.”

Such efforts may include waiving or reducing ATM fees, late payment fees or early withdrawal penalties; restructuring debt obligations as appropriate; expediting lending decisions; and originating loans to rebuild damaged property, the OCC said.

In related news, after the blizzard caused flight cancellations into Washington, officials announced that the House will remain in recess this week and return to session on Feb. 1. As of tonight, the Senate was still scheduled to be in session this week. No banking-related hearings are planned for this week.

As the Washington, D.C., area continues to recover, D.C.-area federal offices — and ABA’s offices — will remain closed tomorrow, Jan. 25.